Fourth graders are passing through the midst of the nine-year change. They still wish to revere, but their reverence must be justified. The children begin to form their own personality in response to their experience of the world, consciously choosing those qualities that will go into their characters.
The Main Lesson blocks are more varied in the 4th grade than they have been in the earlier grades, reflecting both the childrens’ individuation as well as the intellectual breadth of which they are beginning to be capable. Many blocks work with Norse mythology, whose stories strongly echo for the children at this time. The gods of Asgard are portrayed as individuals with distinct personalities who encounter consequences for both good and bad behavior.
Through the study of local geography, the children learn how to find the four points of the compass by observing the sun and stars. They study and make maps of their classroom, the school, the neighborhood, the city, and the state of California. The study of California history focuses on the men and women who played a part in creating the culture we live in. The children relive the world of the first Californians, the coming of the Spanish explorers, the founding of the missions, and the Gold Rush.
In the Human and Animal Main Lesson block the children study the relationships that exist between the human being and the animal kingdom. Through detailed study of the forms and habitats of animals, the children begin to get a feeling for the fascinating assortment of skills and qualities that the animals possess. At the same time, the children begin to see the unique and responsible position they hold as human beings upon the earth.
For the fourth-grade child, the world, once exhibiting a magical wholeness, is breaking up. This is the proper time for introducing fractions. By cutting up apples, baking and cutting pies and pizzas, and creating parts of a whole, the children are given a visual experience of fractions before forming mental concepts. The children learn to add, subtract, multiply, reduce and expand fractions, and to change improper fractions into mixed numbers.